from Kris B.
Thank you again to all of you who took the time to tell us what you'd like to see us write about here. We are doing our best to share our vast, and, in some cases, not so vast knowledge about the things that you requested. One of those was a post about pie. In my case, my knowledge is somewhat limited, but I know people in high places so I will share what I learned about making pie in consultation with them. Lol!
I have mentioned before, that my mom was not a baker; she was a master of the home cooked meal, which at our house did not include dessert on a regular basis. Honestly, I can't remember my mother ever baking a pie. To make sure that I wasn't forgetting some significant detail of my childhood, I went back and looked through the recipe box containing all of her favorite recipes that my mom made for me when I got married the first time back in 1983. No pie recipes. The only pie I ever remember eating at home was apple pie. It was my dad who always made it. I have no idea what recipe he used or if he even used a recipe at all. That, I kind of wish I now knew. All of this to say that I never really learned how to make pies.
As a young adult who became responsible for preparing family meals and who had then moved to the south where pies seem to be "a thing,' as well as one who was occasionally required to take things to potlucks, and eventually had to bake for various fundraisers at my kids' schools, I became interested in learning how to make pies. I quickly learned that the quality of a pie is judged by its crust more so than its filling. Over the years, I have made some good and some not so good pie crusts and in all honesty, I can't really tell you why some were "successful" and others were not.
I am not the pie maker in my family now. My oldest daughter is a trained pastry chef. She (and we as well) are fortunate that she did her internship for her certificate at a pie shop, The Hoosier Mama in Chicago. She is the master pie maker at our house. It is such a joy when our children grow up and find their own passions and they are willing to share them with us.
Though she has loved to bake from the time that she was about three, my daughter, Brooke, has also had a passion for books almost since birth. This is not an exaggeration!!! In terms of a "grown-up" career, she chose to follow her passion for books and currently works as a librarian. This means that most of the baking that she does is for pleasure. Translation: Most of the baking that she does is for us at home. This is good for the taste buds and bad for the waistline!!! Brooke served as my expert advisor for this post.
This week’s recipe for Chocolate chess pie is from The Hoosier Mama. Don't worry! I am not revealing trade secrets here. The Hoosier Mama has published The Book of Pie, full of many of their delicious pie recipes, both sweet and savory, as well as lots of tips, tricks, tid-bits, and trivia about pies. I highly recommend the book to you if you are one of those who asked us about pies.
I used The Hoosier Mama All-Butter Pie dough for this recipe, on pages 24-25 of their cookbook, with napkin folded edges.. You can use your favorite homemade or store-bought pie crust recipe; or, buy the cookbook. Lol!
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
1 1/2 TBS cornmeal
1 TBS vanilla paste
Pinch of kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Place the pie shell on a baking sheet and brush the rim with pie wash. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler, or a medium heatproof bowl set on top of a saucepan of simmering water.
- Remove the butter from the heat and beat in the sugar until it is thoroughly incorporated. The mixture should look shiny not greasy. If the mixture appears greasy, continue to beat.
- Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl in the same manner as the butter. Remove from the heat. Be sure to wipe any condensation off the bottom of your bowl, otherwise it may drip into your batter.
- Stir the melted chocolate into the butter mixture.
- Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition.
- Add the cornmeal, vanilla paste, and salt and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl to incorporate any unmixed butter. Pour the batter into the pie shell.
- Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, rotating 180 degrees every 20 minutes, until the pie doesn't give when pressed firmly in the middle. The pie will rise up to 1" above the rim of the pie tin as it bakes, the. Fall slowly as it cools. The finished pie may be slightly concave.
Let cool 30-45 minutes before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Enjoy!
* The finished batter may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before using; it may separate as it cools so whisk it together before baking. The baked pie can be stored at room temperature for 3-5 days.
Note to self and those of you who photograph food: Remove your lens cap from under the pie stand or you will have to reshoot the photos!!!
By Tracey G
My baking experiences growing up are pretty well in line with what Kris was saying about hers - my mom was not a major baker. She had said that when I was little she made cakes often, but honestly, I don't remember any of it, lol. Now, I know that her mom (my grandmother) was quite the baker, so I am thinking the baking gene skipped a generation and that my grandmother is the kitchen with me every time I decide to bake, lol. And believe me - I think about her every time I switch on my KitchenAid mixer, it does everything she did by HAND! Now that's amazing. I've tried beating a cake batter by hand and I just don't have the stamina, lol. It amazes me how she did it all without the modern conveniences we have now!! So, basically everything I've learned and done I've taught myself through perseverance - and I still have a long way to go I'm sure!
I'm always on the lookout for an easy pie recipe. But pie pastry and I usually don't get along - I should say from scratch pie pastry. I've just never been very good at making it, I don't know why, maybe because I don't do it very often? I'm not sure. But to combat that, I've taken to buying either the frozen crusts or the refrigerated and rolled pie crusts - they're easy and taste good too! So, when I ran across a recipe a few years ago that was a pat-in-the-pan crust (that also doubled as the topping) - I was all in. That would be this recipe - and it's pretty yummy. Harry said I should title it "Mama's Famous Pie", now that was funny, but I thought it was pretty cute too!
The one year I had a bunch of frozen peaches, I used them in place of the apples and it was really good - so this crust/topping combination would go really well with a few different fruits I'm sure - I'd like to try it with blueberries some time!
With the method you use for this, you're basically making your own pie filling instead of it making itself inside the pie by the combination of dry ingredients with the fruit. It might seem like an extra step, but it's really no trouble at all!
Dutch Apple Pie
Preheat oven to 350°
2 c flour
1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c quick cooking oats
3/4 c butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt.
2/3 c sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/4 c cold water
3 c diced, peeled tart apples
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1-2 tsp vanilla
For topping and crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, cinnamon and butter until crumbly; set aside 1 cup for topping. Press remaining mixture into an ungreased 9" pie plate; set aside.
For filling: Combine water, sugar, spices, dash salt and cornstarch in a large saucepan until smooth; bring to a boil. Cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and apples. Pour into crust; top with reserved crumbs. Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown etc. Cool on wire rack.